Tonight the UK’s leading fighter Michael Bisping claimed a significant win over yoshihiro Akiyama in the main event of UFC 120.
The victory leaves Bisping with a 3-1 record over the past twelve months, 10-3 in his UFC career overall to date. So where does this place him in the middleweight division and who should he fight next?
Naturally the ambitious Brit is pushing hard to get into title contention, though that’s not going to come around immediately. His star power in the UK, an important market for the UFC, is significant though, and if he can string a couple more wins together his dream could become a reality.
Prior to his win over Akiyama tonight Bisping had suggested either Nathan Marquardt, Yushin Okami or Vitor Belfort as his next opponent in an effort to fast-track his title ambitions.
That’s unlikely given the current circumstances though. Belfort has already been named as the next title challenger for Anderson Silva and Marquardt Vs Okami in November will decide who fights the winner of that bout.
With that being said it’s not out of the question that Bisping could face the loser of Marquardt Vs Okami.
Beyond the front-runners, a rematch between Bisping and Wanderlei Silva has been talked about by both fighters so must be considered a possibility. Recently though the talk has shifted to Silva being lined up to face a fighter Bisping previously defeated, Chris Leben, when the Brazilian returns from knee surgery early next year.
I’d also earmark the winner of Demain Maia Vs Kendall Grove in December as a possibility if there’s a need to keep Bisping active while the very top of the division sorts itself out.
Overall I don’t see an obvious next step for Bisping with the way the division is currently laid out in the coming months. Recent turmoil at 185lbs such as Chael Sonnen’s suspension and Alan Belcher’s long-term eye injury hasn’t helped matters.
Therefore it may take a step sideways – facing the likes of Maia for instance – first before the UK fighter can climb up to fight one of the division’s top contenders for a shot at the title.
That seems logical to my mind, but the UFC can move in mysterious ways at times so I’m eager to discover what hand they play here.